The familiar scene of Confederate flags waved by fans at NASCAR tracks could soon be a relic of racing’s good ol’ boy roots.
Bubba Wallace — the lone black driver in the sport – this week declared it is time for the stock car series with deep ties to the South to ban the flag at its properties and formally distance itself from what for millions is a unwelcome symbol of slavery and racism.
The signs are everywhere that NASCAR could do so. As the nation grapples with social unrest largely tied to the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis, the predominantly white field of drivers united for a video promoting social change. A black NASCAR official took a knee before Sunday’s race near Atlanta in what may have been a first and the governing body vowed to do a better job of addressing racial injustice.
Wallace – who wore a black T-shirt with the words “I Can’t Breathe” at Sunday’s race — seized the moment and issued his most compelling comments yet on the often thorny nature of race and racing: “My next step would be to get rid of all Confederate flags.”
The 26-year-old Alabama native, who finished second in the 2018 Daytona 500, has pushed NASCAR to the verge of issuing a ban of the Confederate flag whether part of its fan base agrees or not.
“There should be no individual that is uncomfortable showing up to our events to have a good time with their family that feels some type of way about something they have seen, an object they have seen flying,” Wallace told CNN. “No one should feel uncomfortable when they come to a NASCAR race. So it starts with Confederate flags. Get them out of here. They have no place for them.”
NASCAR has been more open in recent times to the to eradication of the Confederate flag, though it stopped short Tuesday of making any final decision on its fate. NASCAR in 2015 asked fans to “refrain from displaying the Confederate Flag at our facilities and NASCAR events.”
Not everyone obliged and fans staunchly defended their Confederate flags and raised them from their RVs.
But as Confederate monuments are toppled around the South and calls for social justice continue to ring out, those fans may have run out of time.